Improving a flower patch

Flower garden before weeding.

Saturday we finally took some time to attack the weeds in the newest flower garden. I had hoped to make this my bulb garden, but none of the tulips that I planted survived the first winter in this spot. Fortunately I did not actually move all of them, and they are growing and blooming in the original spot. The irises on the other hand did manage to make it through the winter and even bloomed fairly nicely this spring. The problem, though, was finding them after the grass began to appear. I have included a few shots of what this place looked like and what it looks like now. I have a small picture of the pile of grass and weeds that we pulled out, but it is not all of it. James had another pile of what he took out of the iris end. I ended up grabbing the pitchfork to lift the pile into the wheelbarrow. It nearly filled it up. Good grief!!

View from the iris angle after it was cleaned up.

It was a great help that James did the weeding in the iris part. I started on the north half, which is closest to the concrete walkway. The iris bed is at the bottom of the driveway and touches the grass. We had planned to extend it all the way to the end of the driveway, but never took the time or effort to dig up the last of the sod at the end. This area used to be some of our best grass, but when I was looking for a place to plant the bulbs so they would get more sunlight, I figured it would make sense to do it here where it would seem like we were squaring out the sidewalk beside the driveway. Perhaps it is the soil more than anything that killed off the bulbs. I suppose the seeds germinated after we watered it. My new plan is to put some roses in this area. I would like to fill it with a couple of climbers, but I think I missed the window of opportunity for purchasing any this year. Maybe I could transplant a few of the wild yellow roses that grow at my mother’s house. The mower person is always trying to contain that patch anyway. Hmmmmm maybe if I sneak over there in the afternoon when no one is around, they (my sisters) might not catch on.

Right after we finished the weeding, it was a bed of dried out dirt. The picture above makes it look like the bed is all nice and clean. Today when I stepped out to get the final picture, I noticed it is filling in with morning glories. We added a makeshift bird bath, which I contrived from an unused tomato cage and a tossed out fry pan. Technically it is a stove top wok, and it was great until someone burned something to the bottom and it was all scratched in the cleaning effort. I did see some little sparrows taking advantage of it the first night we set it up. I even found this little wire fence in the shop when I was digging around for the stand. It was a bugger to get installed, but patient persistence paid off. We also purchased some solar lights to wrap around the pole, but have not gotten those in place yet. I hope to enjoy this garden more as the summer goes as this is right below my bedroom bow-window and I can sit in the window and watch. Roger enjoyed the view with me on Saturday night.

Returning the children

So, last week Thursday, we packed up the Clark grandchildren and headed to Bismarck to meet their parents. It was a long night at our place on Monday when Jessica and her family had left and we were alone with these three. Ana was not having the time without parents anymore. She had a major melt down in my room and it took lots of comforting and a little creative story telling to get her calmed down. Jaxon used to love stories about himself, so I tried it on her. I ended up telling her the story of all she had been doing while visiting at our house and ended it with how we would be packing up and going to look for her parents at an airport.

When we got to the airport on Thursday right around noon, we went to the fence to watch for planes landing and sure enough, we were able to spot their plane on the runway taxiing to the gate. We quickly went inside, but not before a pause for the photo seen above. Ana was pretty wired up about seeing PapaMama. Jaxon said the word only with Mama at the front. Just hilarious these two, and David simply followed along. He was quite funny about finally seeing his mother. His answer to the whole thing was not to let her out of his sight. Even on Monday when we went there to watch Jaxon’s soccer match, David would not come near me for fear that he would have to go with us. We tried to promise Jaxon that maybe next summer he could come for a visit without the others. We shall see. He is now at the point of doing summer sports and there are things like plays and such that he can be involved in, so not sure if there will be time for grandma’s house. Maybe we will just take the sister out of his hair.

Grandma and Grandpa with all of the grandchildren!! What a great crew.

On the other hand, we have others to choose from so who knows who might spend time with us. Off to the left I have included the great picture that Jessica snapped at the Herreid City pool on Monday afternoon. I am thinking this will be a great Christmas card.

Jaxon was able to take swimming lessons here this week. He enjoyed it, and did fairly well, but wasn’t quite able to master the back float and back stroke parts. He is beginning to be pretty confident in the water and even went off the diving board several times. Kenlee and Alyse are like two fish in the water, so they were able to do about anything. Ana and David and grandpa and grandma stayed in the baby pool, and even then we had to walk beside David the entire time. Lily and Marshall were not at the pool the entire time, but they did don their suits and joined in the family fun staying out of the heat as best as we all could. All I know is that I am looking forward to their next visit whether it is in the summer or not until later this fall.

What have you and your family been up to this summer??

 

Days of Grand Kids

I have been so behind on posting, and I will for now blame it on too much going on around this place. Last week we had a proverbial house full of people as all of the grandchildren and most of the children were here for Father’s Day weekend. It sort of started because James’ family decided they needed a Haak reunion. By the way the next one will be in three years and will be held in Aberdeen.

Anyway, the Saturday of the reunion excluded we were at our house except for Nate and Victoria who left on Sunday morning for Las Vegas. Yup, they had their big summer vacation in the desert in the middle of the hottest week in years. Vic said one day they smelled this weird plastic sort of smell and came to realize it was the smell of shoes melting. Yikes, not for me, and Nate who really can’t handle heat said it was enough of an experience for him. I am guessing future vacations to deserts will be during the winter. Ha!!

Do were was I? Oh yes the grandkids. They had a great time playing on the swing set and for the younger of age, as in David, it was a hoot just to climb up and down the porch steps. I have posted a line up of pictures of them all playing outside on the day that Jess and her family had to return to Jamestown.

Kenlee & Jaxon going from chain to chain.

Ana running blow

Alyse came to join in the fun on the slide later on.

 

 

 

 

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David on the steps

Marshal was letting us know that he wanted to stay.

Marshall and Lily with Alyse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been over a week since they were all here, and though the house should feel empty, we are still finding a few items here and there that were left behind. I think it will be a great reason to make a trip to Jamestown after we return from our jaunt to General Synod. We did run out to Dickinson on Monday night to see Jaxon’s last regular season soccer match. What a hoot that was. As we were leaving, I was thinking of how much we still had to do in terms of packing and planning and getting organized to fly to Baltimore on Thursday morning, but not James. No, his reaction as we were hitting the Interstate was, “Next year, we need a copy of all the kid’s sports schedules so we can go to as many things as possible.” Yes, this said, these plans made by the man who is still coaching Jr. high football and varsity track. Everyone is pushing that he should retire (well everyone meaning his daughters) and he is figuring how we can attend even more events. All this while I am thinking that no wonder I am tired, the wheels are never allowed to rest at our place. As Paulina would say, “You picked him.” I suppose she is right.

Well time to close this one up. Hope you are enjoying your summer!!

Garden Work

Hi, just stopping by to let you know how the garden is going. We had a fairly late start this year, so not real sure how things will pan out. Hopefully fall will be long to extend the growing season. If not we may have to put a green house over the top of the garden. Ha!! We do finally have the fence back in place with the required amount of footage removed to please the Corps of Engineers Inspectors. James is a bit tired of seeing pictures of our garden as problems at the city council meetings once a year. Now to figure out how to move those two trees growing in the back. We did not plant them, but would like to keep them some place in the yard.

Current picture

The first two pictures above and here are before and current pictures of the main garden. I still need to get 5 pepper plants into pots, but am not sure if I will be replacing the opening in the tomato row. I know that where the Beefsteak tomato died, I am leaving that spot open to accommodate the two volunteer cucumber plants. I refuse to pull out a volunteer unless it is really in a bad spot. In fact I nearly through a hissy when I thought that James had hoed off the large sunflower growing along the fence with the cucumbers. When he denied doing it, we examined the plant and found it had succumbed to some sort of bugs. The bottle of spray was promptly dispensed on all of the plants above the ground. The closer cans are tomatoes and the far away ones are peppers. The only thing you can really see at this time is the beans and the potatoes. Yesterday I planted more sugar peas along the posts that are to the right of this picture and mixed some zinnia and dill seeds and planted them into the open area. This might be the weirdest garden we have ever had. Last year we did lots of flowers, as in zinnias and cosmos in the main part of this garden and after tilling and watering, almost all of the cosmos seeds that fell to the ground have germinated. We have hoed out some, but I cannot make myself kill off any more than necessary for the other plants to live. At this point I am not sure about the onions. They may not see the sun as the cosmos grow, but if I have to choose the onions lose every time. Well, not much else to show off today. Perhaps I will find time to post a few more pictures tonight.

Time with Jessica

What a day. I have not really done much in terms of work. I think I slept until nearly 10, but I am not even sure anymore. It seems that I do most of everything after 10 p.m. lately. Wednesday it was quite late when I finally finished packing and settled to sleep. On Thursday, James drove me to Sterling and we met Jessica on the off ramp of the interstate instead of at the truck stop because they were paving the driveway there and James didn’t want to get tar all over the Durango that he bought on Wednesday. This will be his vehicle and we will just have to cut back on a few things here and there in order to make the payments and still do some of the fun stuff and the running that we like to do.

The purpose of meeting Jess was to spend some time at her place with the twins. Thursday they happened to have a Dr. appt. in Bismarck, so Tony was allowed to rest and I went along. Report is that things are going well, they are continuing to grow and develop. The Dr. was explaining to Jess where they are fitting on the growth charts and though they are at the low end for now, the good news is they are improving, and as far as Grandma is concerned that is all that counts.

After the poor things had been poked and prodded and looked over two nurses came in and stabbed them with shots. It was sort of a dirty rotten thing to do to them, and when we got back to Jessica’s house, I was sure to tell each of them how very awful it was that they were not informed that this was coming. Of course Jess was listening and laughing. The fact is she had forgotten they were scheduled for the shots. It was a rather quiet evening. They were exhausted from the day, and after a little feeding and some attention time, they were ready for bed, as I was too.

This morning Jessica got up and fed them and when I finally appeared, she left to pick up Lindsey’s dress for her and head for the wedding venue out of town. This will be the fifth time Jessica has been the maid of honor (well now matron of honor) in a friend’s wedding. Boy, I never had even one friend who wanted me to do that, let alone 5.

Marshal and Lily

Anyway, the fun part is that I was able to spend the morning with the twins all by myself. At first I let them sleep while I ate and worked on the computer, and then I finally realized that I wasn’t going to have many days like this. So, the minute they were making a noise, I took them both out of their rockers and put them on the floor together and we just looked at each other and talked. Mostly I let them lay close to each other and look at each other. Lily was busy on her tummy trying to move, but I had Marshall on his side and he kept reaching out and touching Lily. It was great.

Later after Tony got up, he took the two to his parents and Jess came home and got me and we went to the rehearsal. I will be officiating the wedding tomorrow. Thankfully I have the message for the service finished. It will be quite short, but actually plenty long. It could be warm and windy tomorrow, so short will be good. Paulina and James are coming up in the morning and so hopefully we can print out the message and get my hair into some braids to keep it out of my eyes so I can read tomorrow. Let you know how it all turns out…..

Update June 5, 2017

I see it has been nearly a week since I last posted. We have been recovering from the close of the track season, final awards picnic and on and on. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to pack up the uniforms and set the big containers away until next March. I know there are a few “missing” as a slight few (3) of the athletes claim to have turned them in, but they are nowhere to be found in the mix, but that is normal and actually pretty good as things go.

We also had my uncle Gene’s memorial service on Saturday. It was nice with family and people from town, and lots of his friends, teammates and classmates from this area and even some from rather far away, college and high school buddies. It sure showed what they all thought of him. It was good to hear everyone’s stories and I hope that gave those who are having a hard time dealing with it a little comfort. One of his friends choked up twice as he was talking and for lack of a better way to end his speech, he concluded with, “And then the sucker just up and died on me.”

Garden dry and bare waiting to be planted.

Today is another day of regular laundry and hopefully by the time James gets finished with his summer school for the day, it will be time to head outside to get to digging into the dirt. As hot as it has been lately, I am not really looking forward to the outside. Maybe we will clean the freezer instead and we can postpone the garden work until the sun starts to fade for the day.

Well so much for the garden issue. I finished the laundry, Paulina–the walking tomato–came home from the pool a little before James pulled in from Bowdle. After coming home from summer school in Linton and Strasburg, he stopped at the house long enough to grab a sandwich and trade the Neon for the van then head to the service station in Bowdle where we bought it because it smelled hot yesterday and there is a weird rattle in the back end. Results: there is a hose out on the heater that caused the anti-freeze to leak and there is a bearing going out in something, and they needed to order a part for one of them and so he couldn’t just wait for it and come home. When he called to tell me, I was afraid I would have to drive there to get him. Thankfully not.

In the mean time he checked out what was on their lot and found this 5-year-old, low mileage Durango. He convinced them to let him take it as a loaner to see what my reaction would be about purchasing it. I already have my counter offer in mind, but I don’t think they will budge because they already made somewhat of a deal with James. We have two ideas how to get this accomplished, but I reminded James that we need enough left in the bank to cover the trip and some updates on the house. So much for my list of priorities. A different vehicle was towards the bottom. When the owner of the dealership clued in that we had bought our van there and it is a 2009 model with almost 213,000 miles on it, he thought we should be the advertisement. Maybe we could line up all three of the cars we own for the end of the ad. Two of them are 1995 (original) Neons. They don’t even make them anymore.

Well everyone has left for work or meetings, the wind has died back a little, but it is still pretty hot outside. I don’t think that I will try to plant anything today, maybe just get a few things set up in my mind or on paper, or maybe I will get out the gloves and trim the dead stuff off the spirea bushes. They did not winter all that well. Why is it that I just don’t have the energy for any of it this year. I just would rather order take out. Perhaps I need to take a picture of that Durango. We might be eating garden spinach all summer in order to afford that thing even at the reduced used-vehicle price. Hmmmm. What was it my uncle always said, “If you need more money, no need to cut back, just make more.” Ya right easy for him to say, he owned a business. Maybe I better grow more garden and join the Farmer’s Market again.

Message the Sunday following the State Track Meet

Following is the message that was heard in our church the day after the State Track Meet, on May 28, 2017. The scriptures used were: John 17:1-11, I Peter 4:12-14 & 5:6-11 and Acts 1:6-14. The title was “That They May Be One.”

Today it is really the beginning of summer in our house. The track season is over, and we are as some would say, finally free of meets and practices. I am thinking that it might even be time to put out the garden one day this week. As I said in the newsletter, it is my favorite time and my least favorite time. I have so enjoyed this season even for as tightly crammed as it was and even for the way I felt so tired sometimes. As I sat down on Friday night to put together this message, I couldn’t help but think of the scriptures a few weeks ago that pointed us to the message of “Life Here, too,” which was based off a podcast from the National website called “Enjoy this life.”

I have tried to use that whole concept of enjoying the life you are given as a jumping off board, a focus of a way to think of things, and to that I have been trying to add the idea of living in the moment. That thought of being present in what is happening in your life at the time and enjoying it has really been gnawing on me. I tried hard to put that into play this weekend, and for the most part it seemed to work. Maybe we will take a little time out here to give you the grumps of the weekend, just to get them out of the way so that the rest of this message will really have a turned up, happy note to it.

Ok, so the down side was really limited to a couple of things and mainly it boils down to only one thing and that is the attitude of entitlement. In North Dakota we only have a Class A and a Class B, and it gets really tiresome to learn that rules are being changed because certain things don’t seem to suit the important people in Class A. It is also annoying to have certain people on the team end up always doing the heavy lifting, and I do mean heavy in terms of setting up and taking down while others seem to skate by, always, even when duties have been assigned. And mostly working with youngsters is emotionally draining because they have this awful tendency to grow up and graduate and move on, and that is just way too hard for some of us. So, my warning to you is that no one here is allowed to move away, even if you get some notion that you want to be closer to children or other family or whatever the excuse is. I just won’t have it.

The entire group heading to state.

Ok, grumpy piece over, now for the good part. I ended up driving a mini-van on our trip, and instead of putting the older students in it, we left them with Mr. Haak on the mini-bus where there was more leg room, and I took the youngest group, the 7th graders. Let me just say that I have not heard so much giggling in a very long time, and I think that a few of them might have had stomach aches from laughing. It was a wonderful sound even somewhat musical and as I listened to them, I could feel their complete, absolute and pure joy. There was nothing better, even when they were giggling because they were making fun of my driving. So understand that it was this last story, this young childlike joy that was in my mind as I did a reread of the scripture lessons for this week.

As we start with the lesson in Acts, we find a story very similar to the one at the end of Luke in terms of the ascension of Jesus. Although in Luke it flat out uses the phrase “great joy,” I also get the impression of joy from the accounting of the event in this passage in Acts. We don’t see the word joy or exultation or anything on that line, but we also do not read anything that might indicate fear or alarm or sadness or gloom. These verses tell about how Jesus talks to his disciple, basically giving them their final instructions before he leaves them. In some of the other gospels we are told that this is when he is taken to his rightful place at the right hand of God. To me that idea alone should give us the image of an unimaginable joy that Christ is able to experience.

The other joy and the part I want us to concentrate on is the feelings of the disciples and what feelings that should give us. When Christ is taken away, according to the story in Acts, the disciples are visited by two men in white, two angels we presume. They tell the disciples to stop looking, or staring up looking for Jesus, because he will come again. Now the disciples had been told earlier to return to Jerusalem. They know he wants them to stay there waiting for the Holy Spirit to come to them, and so they go, and I will bet it wasn’t with dread or sadness over the past, but with joyful anticipation for what is next. Of course they were grown men, so it might not have been with giggles, but I kind of believe that they were on their way with smiles, even though Jesus had just left them.

If we look at the words from I Peter we read that Peter told the early Christians to rejoice that they were sharing in the suffering of Christ because they would then be able to shout for joy when he returns. Nothing could be truer than that statement. Think about it, no matter how bad things get, and I suppose the worse they get, the more we will shout in for the return of Christ to end the suffering and the agony. And this is true if we actually live to the age of his return or if it is the day that he comes for us alone. In truth, that day will be one of great joy for us as Christians.

The remaining verses in Peter give us some advice for the in-between time. Two things stand out for me. The first is the idea that we should cast all of our cares, all of our anxieties on Christ, and the second is that we should keep ourselves alert for the evil powers which exist in that world that would keep us from what is right, from what Christ wants of us. I love that image of the devil prowling the earth around looking for someone to devour, as if he were some giant swamp creature or the abominable snowman. Maybe it is those sorts of images that make us think there is no such evil power in the world. Perhaps if we thought more of a cunning and conniving con-artist sort of creature, maybe then we would be more likely to believe that there is a power that works to perpetuate evil in the world. Peter’s point in essence is that we need to keep our faith and trust in Christ and God will take care of us.

Exactly! For God to take care of us is just what Jesus prays for in the verses that we read in John 17. This passage is known as Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. It is his prayer for the disciples and his prayer for us. He offers it to God shortly before he is betrayed and crucified. In it, Jesus asks for God to take care of his disciples and give them the task of completing the work he has started so that his work will not have been in vain. I know we can all understand that concept of hoping that what we do is not in vain, I can’t imagine how much Jesus felt the need to make sure his work would be finished by faithful disciples. And in many ways that means us as much as the original 12.

Tomorrow many of the communities in our country will be celebrating Memorial Day. We will gather to honor the men and women who served in our military and especially those who died while in service to secure and protect the freedoms that we have. As much as some of us might disagree about which freedoms we should embrace or exercise and how much we should value any or all of them, if we were to give up any bit of those freedoms, we would be essentially telling those who served and sacrificed especially those who died that what they gave up was not important. We would be telling them that their sacrifice no matter how big or small was really all in vain. I know that I couldn’t do it, and I am pretty sure none of you would be able to do it either, to tell a Veteran that their service was worthless.

I know that what Christ did for all of us was so much more than any of us could do for another, yet isn’t it written that the greatest love a person can have is to lay down their life for another? Each Memorial Day as we gather to honor our country’s fallen soldiers, we do that to ensure that none of them died in vain, that none of them sacrificed their lives or physical or mental well being or even their time without it being worth something.

Jesus in his final prayer to his Father in heaven, as he is about to leave his human existence, asks that his work, his time on earth not be without meaning. His prayer is that God look after the disciples that were given to him, so that they will be able not just to fulfill the work Jesus started, but that they will complete it and in doing that they will also experience the joy that Jesus knew while being about that work.

Of course we also read this to refer to us as believers and disciples in our own way and time. Jesus wants us to continue his mission of spreading his gospel, his love all the way to the ends of the earth, and while we do that he wants us to have the same rewards of knowing him and knowing the joy of eternity that he asked God to give to the original disciples.

At the end of the gospel lesson we read for today, we come across the words: “that they may be one.” A bit further into the chapter in verse 21, we see those words again with just a little twist. In verse 21 it is written, “That they may all be one.” That is the verse picked to be the motto of our wider church. Jesus wants that for us, that we would be one with each other as he and the Father are one, united and working together as soldiers in the trenches, and perhaps to put it in language I understand better, as members of a team, who all have the same goal. That they may all be one.

Jesus asks God to protect his disciples, the 12 that were closest to him, and all who have come to believe in him. He also asks that all his disciples could be one as he and the father are one. To me that means we should learn to love each other in a deep, intensely joyful, Christian love. This love is not restricted by family or gender or skin color or culture or economic status, but it is a love as Christ loves. Christ wants us to be one, to be open and accepting and caring for each other in the same way that Christ and God love each other.

I really believe that when we are willing to open ourselves up to that attitude and when we are willing to take up the task of helping the gospel to spread to the ends of the earth, we will know the love and peace and joy of Christ, and when we do, we will also be able to experience the kind of happiness that makes our sides hurt from laughing. Go this week living in the moment and experiencing the joy of Christ. Amen!

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